March 11, 2011. Japan’s most powerful earthquake triggered a massive tsunami that struck the country’s north-east coast with the devastating consequences we all know. It didn’t prevent Hiroshima based Japanese custom builder Hiroyuki Hirata to travel from Japan with his bike “Phoenix” to Santa Clara, California to compete in the Custom Chrome North American Championship held a few days later March 19-20th.
When Hiroyuki was called on stage to receive his Championship 3rd place trophy he received a huge ovation, of course for his work with this custom, but also as a mark of sympathy for all his compatriots from Japan. A moving moment… Like most builders I have great admiration and respect for Japanese builders and because all custom bikes have an interesting story I would have liked to know the one behind “Phoenix” But again, language barrier prevented all of us present in Santa Clara to know more about this builder and the story line leading to this creation both high tech and Japanese traditional in its details.
So, no tech sheet of this bike but an opportunity for me to remind you about the Phoenix, this mythical sacred firebird with a colorful plumage and usually a tail of gold. It has a 500 to 1000 year life-cycle. Then a young phoenix reborn anew to live again as long as its old self. In Japan, the phoenix is called hō-ō or fushichō, literally “Immortal Bird” and has long been presented as a symbol of rebirth, immortality, and renewal. Japan is a Phoenix…(photography Jerry Southworth courtesy Custom Chrome )